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Preparing for Old Man Winter's arrival

Susan Manzke
This forgotten nest of chicken eggs was discovered when Susan began digging out the canna tubers.

When a dusting of snow showed up on Sunnybook Farm I knew it was time to prepare for winter. I’ve been working toward the change of season for a while now.

Hoses have been rolled up and stored away. I even managed to find the faucet turn-off in the basement and have shut the outside water off.

After our last family picnic, Rachel and Dave moved the big picnic tables into cold-storage—well not exactly cold-storage, but it is getting colder every day. I left my small, folding picnic table up, just in case we got a warm spell and wanted it for an impromptu picnic. When that didn’t happen, it went into winter storage, too.

I managed to dig up my dahlia tubers and made a good start on my canna tubers. I only missed a couple in a far corner. If the ground doesn’t freeze, I may take my shovel out one more time to get those last two.

A funny discovery happened when I was going after a thick planting of canna. I found where my hens were hiding a stash of their eggs. Since all my remaining chickens lay brown eggs, I’m not sure how old these eggs are. They will be disposed of in a distant part of the farm.

My neighbor, John, volunteered to clean snow from my driveway this winter, for which I’m very grateful. But to make sure I’m ready for anything winter can throw at me, Russell brought me a used snowblower. This will work perfectly for cleaning up close to the house and garage/shed.

Susan's son Russell demonstrates how to plug in cord for snowblower electric start.

Since I’ve never worked a snowblower before, Russell made sure I knew how to start and run the machine. First, plug in the cord to the electric start—Russ thought I shouldn’t have a snowblower that needs to be started with the pull cord, though this machine has that, too, if needed.

After plugging in the starter, I’m to turn the choke, take the gas lever out of the stop position, and put it up to the run spot—not extremely fast as I am a turtle when it comes to following a moving object.

There’s a red plunger I’m then supposed to pump to prime the blower. The next red button to press is the starter.

Now I’m to unplug the electric starter and return the choke to its regular position.

I took photos so I can refresh my memory when I do have to start the snowblower on my own. I even took a video of Russell telling me all that I need to know—I forgot that I have to turn the chute so the snow blows away from the already cleared area.

Without Russell’s input, I was able to start the snowblower on its own and get it to move forward. Eventually, I squeezed the lever that let the blower start moving—it would have been blowing snow if there was any to blow, which I hope I don’t need until Christmas.

There was one thing I forgot when doing the startup. I didn’t remember to return the choke to its off position. Because of this slip-up, I think I’ll remember that when I need to start blowing on my own.

It’s good to have photos and video for a refresher before needing to get blowing. Russell is a 3-hour drive—on good roads—if I needed his help. Hopefully, I can do this on my own.

I haven’t brought my heavy clothing or long johns out but on freezing days I’m getting closer to that stash, too. Right now, I’m about ready as much as I can be for winter weather to return.

I figure if I’m prepared, winter won’t jumpstart us with a Halloween snowfall like it did last year. Fingers crossed it will wait until December 21, give us a white Christmas, and then taper off. Though I have to admit I do look forward to using my new toy, I mean snowblower.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N 8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.